Visiting San Francisco, California

Alcatraz
Alcatraz
Cable Car Turn Around
Cable Car Turn Around
Pier 39 / Fishermans Wharf Sea Lions
Pier 39 / Fishermans Wharf Sea Lions
Ghirardelli Sq
Ghirardelli Sq
Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks
SF Mission, El Camino Real bell
SF Mission, El Camino Real bell
SF Mission
SF Mission
Lombard Street
Lombard Street
Haight Ashbury
Haight Ashbury
SF Symphony
SF Symphony
China Town
China Town
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate
Golden Gate
Sausalito
Sausalito
Muir Redwoods
Muir Redwoods

The History of San Francisco.

In 3000 BC the Yelamu Indians lived in small villages and inhabited the territory known today as the City of San Francisco. In 1769 Don Gaspar de Portola led a Spanish exploration party and documented his visit to San Francisco Bay.

In 1776 Father Serra established Mission San Francisco de Assisi, or Mission Dolores, for Spain. In 1821 Mexico declared it’s independence from Spain and the area became part of Mexico. The mission system gradually ended and the land was privatized.

In 1835 the first homestead was erected by William Richardson. Civic plans were laid for expanded settlement with a town and streets. American settlers began to migrate to the area. By 1846 California was claimed for the United States and the area was named San Francisco a year later. San Francisco was still a small settlement of 1,000 people.

By 1849 The California Gold Rush was on and the population had grown to 25,000. Treasure seekers by the thousands came to find their fortunes. Prospectors brought with them the sour dough bread that San Francisco is now famous for. California was also grated statehood.

In 1859 silver was also discovered, furthering the population boom. With hoards of fortune seekers flooding the city lawlessness became common place along with prostitution and gambling. A military fort was established on Alcatraz Island to secure San Francisco Bay.

The wealth generated by the gold rush brought with it entrepreneurs. In 1852 Wells Fargo Bank was founded along with The Bank of California. Levi Strauss opened the first dry goods business and Ghirardelli began manufacturing chocolate. By 1869 The Pacific Railroad was completed linking San Francisco with the East. Chinatown was created by the Chinese immigrants who worked on building the railroads.

In 1873 the first cable cars ran up Clay Street. San Franciscans planned Golden Gate Park, schools, churches, theaters and other civic landmarks. By the turn of the century San Francisco was a major city known for its flamboyant lifestyles and opulent mansions on Nob Hill.

In 1906 a major earthquake struck San Francisco. Buildings collapsed and fire broke out, buring out of control for days. Three-quarters of the city was in ruins. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people were killed. Half the population, about 400,000 people, were left homeless. People camped out in Golden Gate Park or on the beaches.

San Francisco was rapidly rebuilt. The Bank of Italy, later the Bank of America, provided loans. By 1915 San Francisco celebrated its rebirth with the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and The Palace of Fine Arts. City Hall rose again and Nob Hill mansions became grand hotels.

By 1937 the Golden Gate Bridge was completed and Alcatraz became a maximum security federal prison with the likes of Al Capone and The Bird Man of Alcatraz, Robert Stroud, in residence.

During WWII Fort Mason became a port of deployment to the Pacific. By 1945 many military personnel, returning from the war, decided to stay as many well paying post war jobs had been created. With the war over and a good economy, the baby boom began.

By the 1960’s urban planning redeveloped neighborhoods and freeways were constructed. The suburbs expanded due to increasing waves of immigration. San Francisco underwent significant demographic changes with the 1950's beat generation in the North Park Area and the 1960's with hippies and the 1967 summer of love in Haight Ashbury.

By 1970 San Francisco became a center for gay rights in the Castro District. In 1978 Harvey Milk, an openly gay member of the board of supervisors, was assassinated. The gay rights movement was solidified.

By the 1980's San Francisco saw high-rise development downtown. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake again rocked San Francisco, damaging structures and causing loss of life.

The 1990’s brought with it the dot com boom. Computer developers moved into the area creating well paying jobs. Once poor, rundown neighborhoods were transformed through investment and remodeling projects. The bubble burst in 2001. Companies folded and employees left.

Today tourism is a large part of San Francisco's economy and makes up for some of the lost jobs.

City Landmarks.

Located off Twin Peaks Blvd, and at the geographic center of San Francisco, is The Twin Peaks Natural Area. The Peaks are the second highest point in San Francisco. Elevation ranges between 600 - 900 feet offering a panoramic view of San Francisco. The Peaks have their own names: Eureka Peak/North and Noe Peak/South. The Peaks are undeveloped and designated as part of a 31 acre natural area and preserve run by the park and recreation department.

Located between Hyde and Leavenworth St. is a one way section of Lombard St. that has been called the most crooked street in the world. With eight very sharp, steep turns and a great view at the top, Lombard St. earned it's name as the most crooked street in the world.

Located at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge Sausalito is a San Francisco Bay area city located in Marin County. During the prohibition era of the 1920's Sausalito became a center for bootlegging and rum running due to its isolated location facing the Golden Gate Bridge.

During WWII Sausalito became a major shipyard. Following the war a waterfront community grew up starting with three house boats. In the 1970's the house boats were reportedly used as a hide out for The Weather Underground, a radical left, anti war organization wanted by the FBI. Today there are three house boat communities still in existence.

Also located on the northern side of the Golden Gate Bridge is Muir Woods National Monument. The monument is named after famed 19 century naturalist John Muir who established the National Park System. The park has over 560 acres of ancient coastal redwoods. Some of the oldest and tallest redwoods in the world, growing over 250 feet tall and 1000 years old. Home to many species of wild animals including chipmunks, birds, and deer. The Native Indians refused to enter as they believed the forest was haunted.

These are only a few of the fun things to do in San Francisco. So like Don Gaspar de Portola did in 1769 grab your map and go explore.

Tips:

San Francisco is surrounded by water so the weather remains cool and moderate year round. Take a warm jacket and comfortable shoes as you can walk the Golden Gate Bridge and hike Muir Redwoods.

Parts of San Francisco are not as nice as others so consider where you book your hotel. Near Pier 39/Fisherman's Wharf is usually a good bet. It costs extra for parking.

The San Francisco Symphony is world renowned for its sound system. Call ahead and ask for a backstage tour.

If its your first time visiting consider taking a bus tour.

Suggestions for things to see in town: Pier 39, Cable Cars, Ghirardelli Square, Giants Stadium, Lombard Street, SF Symphony, SF Mission, Museums, China Town, Twin Peaks, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, and The Walt Disney Family Museum. http://disney.go.com/disneyatoz/familymuseum/visit/location_hours.html

Suggestions for things to see over, across, or in the bay: Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Sausalito, Muir Redwoods.

If you have time take a drive down Highway 1/Big Sur and visit Hearst Castle in San Simeon and The California Missions. Father Serra is buried in Carmel. Magnificent views!

Are we there yet? What to take on a road trip:

An ice chest with food, snacks and drinks for everyone. Forget sharing.

Don't forget your chargers, headphones, earplugs, meds, and a trash bag.

Take along your Kindle and cell phone to keep yourself and the kids occupied on long road trips. Down load any e-books and apps that will help you.

Remember to take along a great camera. We found the Sony Nex-5 to be light weight and user friendly.

Streets, freeways, and traffic jams are frustrating. Take a good GPS navigation system with you and visit off season.

Did you leave your heart in San Francisco?

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